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Week 1 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Matchups to Exploit and Avoid in Season Openers

Fantasy Football
September 12, 2015

The biggest mistake you can make in fantasy football is not adjusting your lineup on a weekly basis, and that begins right off the bat in Week 1.

Even the players you drafted with your first few picks aren’t necessarily going to come through with huge games. At the same time, you can often find someone off the waiver wire capable of providing some surprise production. It’s important to do whatever it takes to help you win, even if it means benching your superstar in a tough matchup. The good news is you don’t have to worry about team chemistry in the fantasy realm.

On the first weekend of the season, there are some top players who could struggle, but only sit them if you have someone better to replace them. The players to start aren’t necessarily good options to replace them but instead sleeper picks to fill an empty hole in your lineup.

With that in mind, consider tinkering with your roster if you have some of these players.


Start ‘Em: Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings (vs. San Francisco 49ers)

While many are expecting a big jump for the second-year quarterback, putting him in your lineup Week 1 would be a legitimate risk. On the plus side, this is a great matchup for most passing attacks this season.

The 49ers are without their two starting cornerbacks from last season, and Sports Illustrated‘s Andy Benoit is one of many who sees a problem in the secondary:

With pass-rushers like Aldon Smith and Justin Smith also out of the picture, opposing quarterbacks will get plenty of time to throw the ball. Teddy Bridgewater has the talent and the weapons around him to take advantage of this mismatch Monday night.

Sit ‘Em: Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints (vs. Arizona Cardinals)

If you drafted Drew Brees early, there is a good chance you keep him in your lineup no matter what this season. However, having an alternative for Week 1 might not be a bad idea.

The Saints quarterback still has plenty of talent, but he will be without the departed Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills this season, while projected third-down back C.J. Spiller is out with a knee injury. Brandin Cooks could still be a game-changing player, although Brees certainly lacks the options he once had.

Meanwhile, Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com reported the Cardinals will blitz more than usual and use top cornerback Patrick Peterson on Cooks as much as possible. This could force a once-elite quarterback to look more human.

Running Back

Start ‘Em: Ameer Abdullah, Detroit Lions (vs. San Diego Chargers)

Joique Bell is likely to play and remain the starting running back in the depth chart. However, the Lions used a second-round draft pick on Ameer Abdullah and they intend to use him. Kyle Meinke of MLive.com quoted offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi discussing the game plan:

As long as Abdullah gets a chance to touch the ball, he has the quickness and big-play ability to be productive. This is especially true against a San Diego Chargers defense that ranked 29th in the NFL in yards per carry allowed last season.

Sit ‘Em: Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins (vs. Miami Dolphins)

The Dolphins weren’t great against the run a year ago, but the addition of Ndamukong Suh in the middle of the defense will make a big difference. The defensive tackle helped anchor the Lions’ No. 1 run defense a year ago and will have a similar effect in Miami this season.

Alfred Morris could struggle behind smaller rushing lanes, ruining his productivity.

Things will be even worse for the former sixth-round running back if the Redskins fall behind early. Morris isn’t much of a receiver, and rookie Matt Jones will likely take over most of the third-down work, providing the starter with few touches throughout the game.

Wide Receiver

Start ‘Em: Rueben Randle, New York Giants (vs. Dallas Cowboys)

Victor Cruz is officially out for Sunday, elevating Rueben Randle to the No. 2 target behind Odell Beckham Jr. After Beckham finished with 180 yards and four touchdowns in two games against the Cowboys last season, we should assume most of the defensive focus will be on stopping him.

This should leave Randle plenty of space to get open, especially as Dallas attempts to recover from Orlando Scandrick’s injury. After a good end to last season, the former LSU star has a chance to put together a surprisingly strong day.

Sit ‘Em: Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears (vs. Green Bay Packers)

Fantasy football owners have to deal with “questionable” tags and game-time decisions all year long. Still, you would prefer to not have this issue before the games even start.

Alshon Jeffery has been limited by a calf injury that is apparently still less than 100 percent. Brad Briggs of the Chicago Tribune provided the latest info from Friday’s practice:

It appears even if he plays, the wide receiver will not be at full strength. With the Packers (and other teams this year) already likely to give him extra attention without Brandon Marshall on the other side of the field, this could be a tough start to the year.

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